This post is also available in: Danish

It is almost impossible to build a business without money. Usually, it takes time to develop and prove both the technology and strategy before paying customers start to generate revenue for the company. This makes initial funding crucial.

If you have not got your own fortune to spend, investors are often the weapon of choice. But innovative early-stage startups should also consider their soft funding opportunities.

Soft funding is a form of non-equity funding that provides financial support to startups without requiring ownership or equity in the company. The funding is typically provided by government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other institutions that support entrepreneurship and innovation – often with lofty goals of supporting the development of new products and services, growth and job creation in certain fields.

There are a lot of soft funding programs with different focuses but some of the activities that you can receive soft funding for are e.g., research, development, pilot tests, acquiring new equipment, and hiring external consultants.

Boost the bold

Soft funding provides startups with access to funding that they may not be able to obtain from traditional sources such as business angels or venture capital. This can be particularly true for early-stage startups, which may not have a proven business model or revenue stream yet, which makes investors value their company very low.

Soft funding is often aimed at areas which might be too risky for traditional investors in their early stages – e.g. complex, high-risk innovation, social and environmental impact or projects aiming to bring more diversity and inclusion to the startup ecosystem. In other scenarios, soft funding is a great way to leverage your early-stage investor’s money.

Benefiting society at large in some way is often a part of soft funding. However, soft funding is not altruism: startups are expected to build a viable business and most soft funding programs also require co-financing from your company in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. In addition, many soft funding programs offer mentorship, training, and other types of support to help startups grow and succeed.


Get help

There are a lot of soft funding opportunities; at a regional, national, Nordic and European level. In addition, there are several Danish commercial foundations and private companies that support entrepreneurship in the form of grants of various sizes.

This means it can be both difficult and resource-intensive to find the relevant grants and programmes before preparing an application which might not be successful.

Fortunately, there are several ways to get help. For example, there are highly specialised consultancy firms like Nordic Innovators that can help identify and subsequently prepare applications for Danish (e.g. Innobooster), Nordic, and European funding programmes.

The article is part of the magazine “The Guide – A comprehensive overview of the Danish startup ecosystem”, published by Heyfunding and

Read the full magazine here: